State's largest dairy co-op to merge with competitor

Consolidation to serve 11 states, 1,550 farmers

Agriculture

January 16, 1999|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc., the largest dairy cooperative serving the state's farmers, announced yesterday that it plans to merge with a competitor serving six Southern states.

The proposed consolidation with Carolina Virginia Milk Producers Association would create a business that serves more than 1,550 dairy farmers in 11 states and markets about 3 billion pounds of milk a year.

Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, based in Reston, Va., serves about 1,150 farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.

It operates a processing plant in Laurel, employing 90 workers, that produces butter and powdered milk.

Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, which represents about 50 percent of Maryland's dairy farms, also has an equipment division in Frederick that serves as a warehouse store, selling a variety of farm products, including butter, work boots and animal feed troughs.

Carolina Virginia Milk Producers Association markets milk for about 400 dairy farms in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. It is based in Charlotte, N.C.

Directors of both cooperatives have approved a preliminary agreement to consolidate their businesses.

George Walgrove, retiring general manager and chief executive of Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, said the consolidation would increase the cooperative's Southeast milk marketing opportunities, while expanding its financial base and opening the door to increased sales of fluid milk.

Jay Bryant, general manager of Carolina Virginia Milk Producers Association, said the merger would create a larger supply of milk for its growing customer base. A final proposal is expected by the end of next month and would be presented to the membership for approval by April 1. The consolidated operation will have the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative name, and its management will be maintained. Robert Shore, assistant general manager of Maryland and Virginia, is slated to head the organization.

Pub Date: 1/16/99

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